Selling Inception

Lynda Obst says that the “word around Hollywood” was that Inception would be only a minor success. Too weird, too hard to explain, etc.  Then the PR team took over and made it into a Movie Event. In her telling, here’s how they did it:

They turned Chris Nolan into a star—not a movie star, but a cinema star. No director had accomplished this, except Spielberg. […] The materials cut by the WB team were taut, dramatic, consistent, and told a narrative:

1. This is an event.
2. This Director (Capital D)—who made Dark Knight—is the Real Thing.
3. It’s about dreams.
4.  This movie is cool.
5.  Here’s all the story you need.
5.  It’s action: mucho action.
6.  Here’s Leo.
7. He goes home.
8. Visuals are mind-blowing.
9. More action.
10. You have never seen anything like this.

Great savings stat

From Floyd Norris in the NYT:

This week I checked the Web sites of the four largest banks in the country — Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo — to see what they were offering on an ordinary savings account, say, one with $5,000 in it.

Chase, the retail operation of JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo were offering 0.05 percent. That $5,000 would produce monthly interest of almost 21 cents. If you left such an account untouched for 20 years, and rates stayed where they are, the glories of compound interest would lead to a profit of $50. Before taxes, of course.

At that rate, if you wanted to put away enough to produce a retirement income of $50,000 a year, without touching the principal, you would need $100 million on deposit.

The Birth of a Sticky Idea

Our latest Fast Company column was sparked by a provocative public health ad:

pouring on the pounds

In the piece, we wonder whether sugary sodas will be the next cigarettes…

The Dirtiest Hotels in the World

This is a brilliant promotion from TripAdvisor. Got it via email and it was the one promo email, out of the last 500, that I’ve clicked thru to see. How can you not?  Its strength is its unexpectedness — most companies would be too chicken to try something like this.

From a review of the #1 hotel on the list: “It makes a crack house look like a Hilton. There are mice, roaches, bedbugs,and crack heads all living at this Hell Hole! The hotel itself smells and is filthy from the disgusting bedspread to the filthy bathroom.”

Endless fun and great marketing.

(For you Houstonians out there — this reminds me of the irresistible appeal of dearly departed Marvin Zindler‘s TV reports. “There was SLIIIIIME IN THE ICE MACHINE!”)

Talking strategy at Newsweek

Richard Perez-Pena writes that Newsweek’s “ingrained role of obligatory coverage of the week’s big events will be abandoned once and for all,” according to execs.

Let’s leave aside whether this strategic shift makes sense or not. Notice how Newsweek editor Jon Meacham articulates the shift in a way that is concrete, specific, and full of uncommon sense:

“There’s a phrase in the culture, ‘we need to take note of,’ ‘we need to weigh in on,’ ” said Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham. “That’s going away. If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”

If you’re leading a strategic shift in your organization, that’s the way you need to sound. (And for more pontification on this point, see the “Talking Strategy” chapter in the new edition of our book.)